Embracing the Quilting Journey with Susan Skuda

Susan Skuda is a quilter from Waynesville, NC who we are very excited to welcome to the Folk School for the first time as she teachers her class “Caveman Square Dance” the week of September 28 – August 2, 2024. We asked Susan to share a big about herself and her quilting practice with us.

Read more about Susan and her class in our interview below! Interested in her class? Register today to secure your spot.

JCCFS: Tell us a little about your background; when did you learn to sew?

SS: I often joke that I’ve been sewing since birth, as I cannot remember a time when I didn’t sew. My mother was an excellent seamstress who taught me to sew as a child and then taught me garment sewing as a pre-teen. I made all my own clothing for many years. My husband early on had to learn to “dance on pins” as I am never far from a sewing machine! I later dove into machine embroidery, first to enhance my own sewing, then as a business, and later as an educator. Along the way, I followed my mother into the world of quilting and have never looked back, dragging my sister and many others along for the ride! I am frequently asked to teach family, friends, and community groups. My passion for sharing my love of quilting with others quickly evolved into a busy teaching schedule. It finally grew to the point I had to decide whether to continue to accept custom quilt commissions or to turn my efforts toward teaching others. The absolute delight I experience in sharing my passion with others won hands-down!

JCCFS: You’re teaching a class at the Folk School called “Caveman Square Dance” this summer. Can you talk a bit about what students will learn in your class?

SS: The “Caveman Square Dance Quilt” technique designed by friend and Hendersonville Fiber Artist, Didi Salvatierra, is a delightful quilt well suited to relative beginners and advanced quilters alike. Didi’s innovative construction method is refreshingly unique, and her creative and deceptively easy zigzag border technique consistently produces excellent results across skill levels. This quilt pattern is not commercially published, so this expanded adaptation is only taught through my workshops.

While even by relative beginners can make a beautiful quilt with this technique, many award-winning and advanced quilters have delighted in making their own versions of this creative quilt as well. Many fellow members of Art Quilt Group (Shady Ladies of Waynesville, NC) to which I belong have had a marvelous time trying their hand it with stunning results.

Examples of The Caveman Square Dance

JCCFS: What can students expect to leave your class with?

SS: Students will not believe they can have so much fun while learning so very much! A week-long workshop gives you the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of these unique directed improvisational techniques, a chance to play with your favorite fabrics, explore the visual effects of contrast in color, and the perfect opportunity to use the bright and beautiful threads we love to purchase but seldom have an opportunity to showcase. Beginning quilters will have ample time to learn to construct each portion of the quilt top, and may even leave with a completed smaller wall-hanging, while advanced participants may very well make an entire decorative quilted piece from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoy teaching every aspect of the quilting process and strive to share with all students tips to achieve the best results while having the most fun doing it.

JCCFS: What do you most enjoy about teaching?

SS: I absolutely and without hesitation love most those times when students have the “aha!” moments, the “lightbulb” experiences, and most of all, are able to achieve results they never believed possible. If I say I love to make my students cry, does that sound bad? It gives me chill bumps to this day to recall students, who, with tears in their eyes, tell me that they never expected to be able to do what they were able to accomplish by the end of a workshop or class.

JCCFS: This will be your first time teaching here. What attracted you to the Folk School?

SS: I have long known of it by its reputation for being a top-tier and very nurturing instructional environment dedicated to preserving heritage crafting by passing along skills to the next generation. I have many friends who have either been instructors here or who have taken classes. My friend and mentor Jane Cole told me that her twenty years as an instructor at John C. Campbell Folk School have been among the most cherished moments of her life. I will be forever grateful to Jane for encouraging me to pursue becoming an instructor here.

JCCFS: Where do you draw inspiration from for your work?

SS: I love these mountains. I delight in working with my hands. I cherish the heritage of quilting and sharing the love of quilting with others. I draw inspiration from the skill and work of fellow artisans. A great honor of my life is to be part of the Shady Lady Art Quilt Group, where we work together but individually, nurturing each other, inspiring each other and encouraging each other to stretch our wings by asking, “What if?” It is this spirit I hope to share at this magical place.

JCCFS: What’s your favorite piece of work you’ve made recently?

SS: I’ve often been asked what my favorite project, pattern, quilt, technique or skill is. My answer is always the same: the next one! While I delight in (almost) everything I create, I find the most enjoyment in the anticipation of what I will learn and create around the bend. There is so much to do, so much to learn, and so much to create!

JCCFS: What tips would you give an aspiring craftsperson?

SS: Go easy on yourself! We tend to be our own worst critics. Enjoy the process. You don’t need to point out the “flaws” in your work to others. By all means, do not be afraid to make mistakes; it is through mistakes that we learn and grow. When taking a class, you always learn something, whether from your instructor, from fellow participants, or through the inevitable bump in the road. Embrace the process. Enjoy the journey and have fun!

JCCFS: Where can folks find you if they want to stay up to date on you and your work?

SS: I encourage everyone to join me on my quilting and teaching adventure by following my Facebook page at facebook.com/mistymorningquilts. With student permission, I publish class photos, completed work, inspiration and other fascinating tidbits of my quilting and teaching life as well as work by students outside the class setting for the inspiration of others.

Some of Susans Previous work

Upcoming Class with Susan

Caveman Square Dance

July 28 – August 2, 2024

Discover a fun, fabulous, fast, and forgiving improv quilt construction technique. Come prepared to play with color, contrast, your favorite fabrics and bright or variegated threads. The block building is easy and the clever zigzag border construction will simply amaze you! Easy enough for beginners yet delightfully enjoyable for seasoned quilters as well. Finished quilt approximately 55 inches square.

About Susan Skuda

Susan Skuda enjoys nothing more than sharing her passion and joy for quilting with others. She is known for her enthusiastic teaching style, enjoyable, stress-free classes and for nurturing others’ creativity and skill. With a background in education, Susan has taught an expanding repertoire of quilting, sewing and machine embroidery over the past twenty years to students at all levels and with differing learning styles. Her proudest moments are those “light bulb” experiences when students realize they can achieve what they might have previously thought impossible.

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